Split Highlighted by 16 Homers

By Doug Fitzgerald published April 14, 2006

COLORADO SPRINGS â€" The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers combined for 16 home runs, including a school-record 11 in the second game, as the teams split their doubleheader Friday at Mountain Lion Field.

The Mountain Lions (28-7, 17-7 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) won the opener 9-4, while the Lopers (20-12, 17-9 RMAC) took Game 2 15-11.

“Itâ€TMs a hitting conference; everybody swings the bats,” said UCCS coach Scott Peterson. “It used to be 3-2 or 2-1 scores, but now youâ€TMve got these crazy games.”

The 11 combined home runs hit in the nightcap may also be an RMAC and an NCAA record, but since those marks are not published it was not possible to confirm either.

Nebraska-Kearney hit two homers in the second inning and another in the third to open a 6-1 lead. UCCS answered with two runs in the bottom of the third on a solo shot by Rachel Hancock and an RBI single by Janine Ota.

The lead was 8-3 when the Mountain Lions went back-to-back-to-back-to-back in the bottom of the fifth. Brittni Carlson opened with a three-run shot to left field. Sarah Cleland, Ota and Savannah Ledford all followed suit as UCCS surged to a 9-8 lead.

“We made a great comeback,” said Peterson. “It was a fun game to watch.”

The Lopers registered three unearned runs in the sixth off UCCS starter Angie Heronema (5-4), but UCCS was able to send the game into extra innings with a solo shot by Sarah Brisky and an RBI single by Lindsay Shandera.

The Mountain Lions had an opportunity to end the game right there. With runners on first and third and one out, though, UNKâ€TMs Breanna Bowers was able to induce a combacker from Carlson (whoâ€TMs hitting .468) and a line out from Cleland (.400).

“We just came up one hit short,” said Peterson.

UCCS was made to pay dearly for the missed chance. Melissa Hinkley hit a three-run homer, her second of the game, to spark a four-run rally in the top of the eighth.

UCCS staked starter Amanda Ritchie (17-2) to a 5-0 lead in the first inning of the opener. Shandera ripped a run-scoring single up the middle to open the scoring. Three batters later, Ota sent a grand slam over the right field fence. All five runs, and the loss, were charged to Bowers, who completed just one-third of an inning.

Ritchie made the lead stand despite not having her best stuff. Three of the six hits allowed by the senior left the yard, leading to four earned runs.

“Amanda Ritchie is incredible,” said Carlson. “Sheâ€TMs one tough cookie. I give her props because sheâ€TMs carrying this team right now.”

Cleland also went deep in the opener.

There was no shortage of hitting stars. Shandera went 3-for-5 with four walks and five runs scored. Cleland was 2-for-5 with three RBIs. Ota went 4-for-7 with six RBIs.

“Everyone in our lineup can come up with a hit,” said Carlson, who went 4-for-8 with four RBIs. “That helps us a lot because weâ€TMre not trying to rely on one big hit.”

The Mountain Lions have shifted their focus from trying to catch Regis and earn regional recognition to working for position in the RMAC playoffs. Fridayâ€TMs split was important in keeping the Lopers at armâ€TMs length for third place.

“Weâ€TMre not hanging our heads,” said Peterson. “We got the split. We have to come back and get at least one tomorrow and hopefully two.”

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Brittni CarlsonBrittni Carlson32IFFr.
Brittni CarlsonBrittni Carlson321BSo.
Brittni CarlsonBrittni Carlson32OFJr.
Brittni CarlsonBrittni Carlson32OFSR.
Lindsay ShanderaLindsay Shandera20IF/OFFr.
Lindsay ShanderaLindsay Shandera201BSo.
Lindsay ShanderaLindsay Shandera201BJr.
Lindsay ShanderaLindsay Shandera201BSr.
Janine OtaJanine Ota10OF
Amanda RitchieAmanda Ritchie17PJr.
Amanda RitchieAmanda Ritchie17PJr.
Sarah ClelandSarah Cleland14IFFr.
Sarah ClelandSarah Cleland14IFFr.
Sarah ClelandSarah Cleland14IFFr.
Sarah ClelandSarah Cleland14CJr.
Sarah ClelandSarah Cleland14IFFr.
Rachel HancockRachel Hancock42BSo.
Rachel HancockRachel Hancock42BSo.
Rachel HancockRachel Hancock42BJr.
Angie HeronemaAngie Heronema1P
Savannah LedfordSavannah Ledford24SS
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